Slowly being eroded away due to heavy traffic on a nearby ship channel, Fantasy Island in Tampa Bay is about to have its dreams come true. More than 1,000 oyster domes and 40 tons of fossilized oyster shell is on the way to stabilize the southern shoreline of the island and create perfect conditions for a thriving oyster reef that will prevent further erosion and improve water quality in the Bay. Coastal Conservation Association Florida, the Building Conservation Trust and Tampa Bay Watch, in partnership with the Florida Aquarium, have joined forces on the project, which is scheduled to be launched in spring of 2016.
“CCA Florida is proud to be part of another project to enhance habitat and improve water quality in Tampa Bay,” said J.D. Dickenson, CCA Florida Habitat Committee chairman “A lot of thought has been given to this project and the innovative design is in a perfect spot to take advantage of the flow from the Alafia River. By greatly expanding the hard surface area, this effort will result in more oysters, more attractive habitat for fish, and a better spot for anglers.”
Permits for the $150,000 project are already in hand and the effort is ready to proceed. Tampa Bay Watch has contributed $75,000 for the construction and placement of the 1,080 oyster domes, which will be placed in about two feet of water, allowing them to be exposed at low tide and totally submerged at high tide. Those conditions are ideal for oyster growth in Tampa Bay and the domes will also serve to buffer the island from waves created from passing boat traffic.
CCA’s Building Conservation Trust (BCT) national habitat program, the Duckwall Foundation, and CCA Florida, have each committed $25,000 for construction and transportation of the oyster shell bags and for community involvement. Confirming that healthy marine ecosystems are a priority for anglers everywhere, funding from the CCA Music City Chapter event in Nashville, Tennessee, is being applied to the Tampa Bay project.
“Our involvement with CCA here in Nashville has made it possible for even us inland anglers to be a part of conservation projects like this, which can have an immediate, positive impact on the places where we travel to fish and enjoy the coast,” said John Franck, chairman of the CCA Music City Chapter. “It is a great feeling to be able to give back to the waters we love, and it really drives home the reality that we all have a role to play as stewards of the marine environment.”
Fantasy Island is a spoil island located in Hillsborough Bay near the mouth of the Alafia River that was created in the 1970s as part of the Harbor Deepening Project. In addition to enhancing oyster habitat, the project is expected to stabilize roughly 700 feet of shoreline on the island.